Is it, I wonder, dignity or defeatism to accept the suffering that you yourself are experiencing?
I guess, if I am honest, it really depends on who you ask and indeed the type (and possibly the cause) of the suffering that you are experiencing.
It is, I think, a natural and understandable human compunction or desire to wish to see the suffering that a friend or loved one is suffering removed or even reduced. Because of this I think a fair question to ask would be, “Does not the sheer desire to see this removed immediately label that suffering as a negative, harmful, unfair or even wrong thing?”
But is this always the case?
Do we not as parents, when our children misbehave, impose some form of discipline, some form of discomfort or “suffering” that they have to experience or endure in order for them to learn? Doing so in the hope of reducing or removing greater potential risks or sufferings later in life? Do not our doctors bombard cancer patients with harmful radiation therapies in order to combat the more harmful cancer cells that are damaging or destroying their bodies? Likewise do they not inflict further suffering on a patient with a badly fused fracture by re-breaking and resetting it in the hope that it will benefit them in the long run?
Is there not, within each of these examples, a very clear “lesser of two evils” philosophy being applied here? Whether understandably so or not we are able to see this in each of these examples and we hope that the application of short-term suffering will result in longer-term gain.
But what happens when the causality of the primary/core sufferings is not as easily identified or not as easily understood? Likewise what happens when the potential outcome or even the desired potential outcome is not as easily identified or perceived?
Those who know me well will know that I have for years now experienced both poor mental and poor physical health. Indeed those who are actively involved in my life at this time will further know that for weeks now my mental health, not to mention my physical health, has completely crashed and I have been suffering great bouts of depression, confusion, self-doubt, self-loathing, self-harming and even suicidal thoughts.
In truth I am so very tired of the suffering and in truth I am just as tired of the countless pills, capsules, creams, pastes, inhalers, and sprays that I am meant to take, use or apply each and everyday in order to… “prevent further deterioration” or “preserve” or “lengthen” my “life”, or to “mask the symptoms”, or “manage my conditions” or allegedly to “improve my quality of life.”
But does being so desperately tired of it all mean that I am NOT accepting the suffering I experience or is it simply a natural bi-product of what I face?
See here is the deal. The truth is that there are numerous people out there – with or without a faith in Christ – who suffer far worse than I do. The truth is also that my suffering is nothing compared to what our Lord experienced.
The truth is also that I am not looking to identify causality of those conditions that I experience for which no readily identifiable causality seems available. I simply desire to understand the conditions and the effects that these have on my mental and physical health and indeed my spiritual health.
Likewise I am not seeking to apportion blame or indeed responsibility for their presence only in fact their effect.
I refuse ABSOLUTELY to question God – His power or indeed His justness in all of this. Because for me to do so would be to suggest that God is somehow or should somehow be accountable to me and I just won’t go there as to do so is, I believe, even more unhealthy than I am 🙂
Yes I struggle so greatly with my health – physical and mental and indeed if I am open and honest here spiritual health, but I do NOT struggle with and indeed I do so accept God’s sovereign will, His love and His justness in it all even though I do not fully understand it.
As a Christian I face many different responses to my mental and physical health – responses that vary from “I am so sorry you are going through all this”, to “is there some un-forgiveness in your heart that is preventing your healing?” or “do you feel that some lacking in your faith is preventing your healing?” or “what do you think God is trying to teach you by bringing this to you or allowing this in your life?” Trust me I have varying levels of sadness, concern and even at times disdain over some of these suggestions and the inferred nature of God that are assigned to them. For me they approach the whole subject from a false and wrong perspective.
The question I have to ask, now that I am experiencing a rare moment of lucidity, is not, I believe, so much “Do I believe that God wants me to suffer?” but more “How would God want me to behave in response to my suffering?”
I started this blog with the question, “Is it, I wonder, dignity or defeatism to accept the suffering that you yourself are experiencing?” Perhaps the answer to this question lies less in the apportioning of the label I assign to my suffering and more in the attitude with which I address what I am experiencing?